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Congress pay - is freezing of salaries really enough?





deanhills
Why should it be the coming elections in November to motivate Congress to have their salaries frozen? Why, when 44 percent of Congress are apparently millionnaires, could they not have spontaneously opted for a cut in salary last year when the writing was on the wall? In a normal business, when things are bad, usually austerity measures are immediately applied. There would be staff cuts, also benefits cuts and pay cuts. Is freezing of salaries really enough, especially given that that the inflation last year was below zero in minus territory?

It is obvious that Government needs to be completely overhauled, would now, when Government is seriously in the red, and there was deflation last year, not be the absolute right time to make that the overall top priority?
Source for Current Inflation Rate
Source for Pay Announcement: Yahoo!News
ocalhoun
Heck, why not make all the higher political positions volunteer positions?

Given the costs of running a modern campaign, nobody would run who couldn't already take care of themselves nicely.
The prestige and power of the position are compensation enough, as long as a small fund is set aside for the rare occasion when a politician needs financial assistance in order to do his job.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
Heck, why not make all the higher political positions volunteer positions?

Given the costs of running a modern campaign, nobody would run who couldn't already take care of themselves nicely.
The prestige and power of the position are compensation enough, as long as a small fund is set aside for the rare occasion when a politician needs financial assistance in order to do his job.
Awesome suggestion. I also don't understand why it should be a paid position. Maybe they can be paid an honorarium, to be decreed from scratch on an annual basis, but why the whole package with a whole range of benefits. Just imagine the cost of administration of the benefits, which must cost the Government a pretty penny as well and no doubt is fully taken advantage off.
harismushtaq
If people of a nation are enjoying top quality food, household of their own, their own top class cars, plenty of money to travel around the world and enjoy food and other amenities, health care and education is available for all, every one gets top security, then, it would be right for top government class also to enjoy all these benefits. There are many countries in the world where top government, military officials enjoy all these things where as a great portion of population cannot even buy their necessary food and medicines. Education and security are just dreams for this portion of population. Then there is a large portion of population that hardly make both ends meet and pay a good part of their income in taxes only to pay for the life style of governing class. Injustice, rather cruelty.
Moonspider
ocalhoun wrote:
Heck, why not make all the higher political positions volunteer positions?

Given the costs of running a modern campaign, nobody would run who couldn't already take care of themselves nicely.
The prestige and power of the position are compensation enough, as long as a small fund is set aside for the rare occasion when a politician needs financial assistance in order to do his job.


No, I believe everyone should be paid for their work. It's just the right thing to do.

Besides, the salaries for politicians is not the problem when it comes to government spending. They could all work for free and not make a dent in government spending or the deficit.

Respectfully,
M
ocalhoun
Moonspider wrote:

Besides, the salaries for politicians is not the problem when it comes to government spending. They could all work for free and not make a dent in government spending or the deficit.


True, but it would be a touching symbolic gesture, especially if implemented in a time of special financial hardship of either the government or the people.
Moonspider
ocalhoun wrote:
Moonspider wrote:

Besides, the salaries for politicians is not the problem when it comes to government spending. They could all work for free and not make a dent in government spending or the deficit.


True, but it would be a touching symbolic gesture, especially if implemented in a time of special financial hardship of either the government or the people.


That it may be. However, IMHO, too much symbolism and pandering already flows out of D.C. like the Mississippi in spring. What we need are leaders willing to make the tough calls and then lead the American people. Getting spending and the deficit under control will take extremely tough measures. Whoever is in charge will have to march uphill to convince the American people that it's right. It will mean cutting non-discretionary spending (which means changing laws and cutting benefits) as well as discretionary spending and raising taxes on everyone, not just the wealthy minority.

You can't cut discretionary spending and leave non-discretionary spending alone. You can't just raise taxes and not touch spending. You can't just cut spending and not raise taxes.

I don't think anyone in the beltway possesses the stomach for it, to be honest. The United States will just trudge along meandiringly through the mud until the effort becomes too much trouble.

Respectfully,
M
deanhills
Moonspider wrote:
You can't cut discretionary spending and leave non-discretionary spending alone. You can't just raise taxes and not touch spending. You can't just cut spending and not raise taxes.
Good point. The Governments of the world are partying as their leaders, such as Brown during the UK election campaign maintain the more they spend, the better the chances for a recovery of the economy. The typical policy of spending themselves out of a recession. All of this just boggles the mind, as what is different from before, when the problem had occurred in the first place and people were spending well beyond their means? In the meanwhile there is still a serious problem with unemployment, and that "spending" is not getting to the little guy in the street. Instead the Banks that got bailed out, are doing probably better than they did before. Possibly that is where all the money is, so it would be great if Obama could target taxes at those Banks that were bailed out, as some sort of compensation. To pay down that enormous loan he made in the name of the taxpayers. Or just get banking back to the people so that the banks can be serving the people instead of the other way round. I.e. go a few steps backward in history, so that Banks can only do banking business, and no longer other services such as investments etc. So that we can get back to your Building Societies in the communities where they are needed and money reaching those people who really need to be bailed out.
deanhills
OK. Now this is more like it, and much more sincere. The new coalition Government Cabinet of Ministers in the UK is taking a 5% pay cut:
Quote:
Among the first acts of the new Cabinet, which has said deficit-cutting is its top priority, was agreeing to take a 5 percent pay cut and subsequent five-year salary freeze that the government says will save taxpayers 300,000 pounds ($450,000) a year. The move leaves the prime minister's annual salary at 142,000 pounds, plus 65,000 pounds for sitting as a lawmaker. Other ministers get slightly less.

Yahoo!News
Bondings
The more they get paid the less likely they will be interested in accepting bribes and similar. This is one of the biggest problems in politics, in my opinion, and far outweighs the cost of the salary.

And yes a campaign costs a lot of money, but in the USA (and a lot of other countries) that money usually comes from donations and not necessarily from the person itself. A good example is Joe Biden. Being a millionaire shouldn't be necessity for a political position.

Maybe all the millionaires should opt out voluntarily?
ocalhoun
Bondings wrote:
The more they get paid the less likely they will be interested in accepting bribes and similar.

Is there any statistical or even anecdotal evidence to support this?
The country doesn't have a big enough budget to satisfy the greed of some of them.
Quote:
This is one of the biggest problems in politics, in my opinion, and far outweighs the cost of the salary.

Quite true, though I doubt it can be solved by increasing salaries.
Quote:

And yes a campaign costs a lot of money, but in the USA (and a lot of other countries) that money usually comes from donations and not necessarily from the person itself. A good example is Joe Biden. Being a millionaire shouldn't be necessity for a political position.

Again true, it shouldn't be necessary to be a millionaire. Donations are fine, BUT they should not come from businesses and they certainly should not come with strings attached, as they often do now.
Quote:

Maybe all the millionaires should opt out voluntarily?

Not likely.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
Bondings wrote:
The more they get paid the less likely they will be interested in accepting bribes and similar.

Is there any statistical or even anecdotal evidence to support this?
The country doesn't have a big enough budget to satisfy the greed of some of them.
I find that too. The more people get paid, or the richer they become, the stronger focus they have on what is due to them. I'm not even sure that they look at it as bribes. They look at it as what is due to them.

Bondings wrote:
And yes a campaign costs a lot of money, but in the USA (and a lot of other countries) that money usually comes from donations and not necessarily from the person itself. A good example is Joe Biden. Being a millionaire shouldn't be necessity for a political position.

Maybe all the millionaires should opt out voluntarily?
I think this whole idea about campaign donations is wrong. They have to find different ways to elect Presidents. As campaign donations can corrupt the whole process. That is one thing I liked about Cameron in his opening speech when he was just moving into Downing Street. He has a passion for public service. Not often that one hears that. I'm not so sure that millionaires and public service gel well together in the interest of the country. I don't think millionaires should opt out, but they should be considered on the merit of their capabilities for leadership and public service with no reference to their millions, i.e. there has to be a different system than wealthy candidates and campaign contributions.
Bondings
What I meant was that if they don't get a decent salary, the ones that aren't millionaires and don't have other revenue sources will have no other choice than to depend on bribes.

Here in Belgium political parties get money from the state that they can also use for their campaigns. It's not that much and donations and the like are pretty much non-existant nowadays by my knowledge (it's been removed more and more over the years). The election expenses also have a limit.
deanhills
Bondings wrote:
What I meant was that if they don't get a decent salary, the ones that aren't millionaires and don't have other revenue sources will have no other choice than to depend on bribes.
Good point. For me that is exactly what is happening anyway, i.e. the campaign contributions from companies who obviously would expect favours in return, are "legal" bribes.

Bondings wrote:
Here in Belgium political parties get money from the state that they can also use for their campaigns. It's not that much and donations and the like are pretty much non-existant nowadays by my knowledge (it's been removed more and more over the years). The election expenses also have a limit.
This sounds how it should be. Would be interesting to see what an election in the States would look like without individual campaign funding.
ocalhoun
Bondings wrote:

Here in Belgium political parties get money from the state that they can also use for their campaigns. It's not that much and donations and the like are pretty much non-existant nowadays by my knowledge (it's been removed more and more over the years). The election expenses also have a limit.


Two things that would greatly improve American politics, which in turn would improve the quality of governance and in turn quality of life.

But since those are two things that most politicians would fight hard to prevent, they aren't likely.

How did these things come about in Belgium?
Bondings
Companies used to be able to donate and that was being abused. So they didn't allow this anymore somewhere in the seventies or later, I'm not sure exactly when. Since then it's getting more and more restricted. Now only persons are able to donate small amounts of money. The parties also get money from membership fees.

Political parties getting money from the government for their working is rather common in Europe. I think the EU does it themselves, too. In Belgium those donations are more important for the parties than in most other countries, though.

In 2007 the total spent money for the elections was about 20 million Euros. That's for all the political parties and candidates together and we have a lot of them (5 governments). We have 10 million people to put it in perspective. It used to be 30 million Euros in the 90's and has been going down since then, but that's mostly because the elections for different governments here have been falling seperately causing the money to be divided between those dates.

The candidates themselves do work with their own money and receive gifts, but over 70% comes from the money they spent from the parties (which mostly comes from the government).
ocalhoun
Bondings wrote:
Companies used to be able to donate and that was being abused. So they didn't allow this anymore somewhere in the seventies or later,

Crying or Very sad
But the abuse is self-sustaining: no politician will move to eliminate it because they risk their own campaign funds by doing so.
Bondings
ocalhoun wrote:
Bondings wrote:
Companies used to be able to donate and that was being abused. So they didn't allow this anymore somewhere in the seventies or later,

Crying or Very sad
But the abuse is self-sustaining: no politician will move to eliminate it because they risk their own campaign funds by doing so.

By my knowledge in the USA, companies were also not allowed to donate (although I assume lobbying is a different thing). From what I heard recently a judge ruled that free speech also applied to companies and hence they were allowed to donate too (I think even non-USA companies too). Obama is not really glad about it, but I don't think he's able to do much.

But then again, companies were already donating, disguised as all the employees giving something.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/ct-oped-0127-page-20100126,0,5726772.column
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